In lieu of my typical post, I'm interviewing author Janice Thompson about her newest book, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel, which has just released in ebook format.
After reading it, I promise you that this is a book that anyone - who wants to write a book, has written a book, thinks may possibly write a book one day or knows someone who wants to write a book - should have in their library. It is just that good. And it is on sale until Monday!
Janice, you’ve just debuted a brand new book for novelists. Why veer from your usual work to put together a book for writers?
Because I love writers! I’ve always had a heart for novelists and want to do every thing I can to help and encourage them, whether they’re penning that first story or fifty-first. This book has information that should be helpful to pros and novices, alike. I’ve noticed a trend in recent years. Incoming writers approach me, one after the other, asking the same questions and struggling with the same problems. I’ve worn myself out giving the same answers. There are only so many times and ways you can say, “You’re head-hopping, honey!” Because of that, I decided it would be easier to compile the information into a writing text, which I’ve titled Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. I can’t wait to see what novelists think of this exciting new book.
Can you tell us a little about your background as a novelist?
Every writer hopes to write “The Great American Novel.” I started writing novels as a child, so the desire to craft “story” has always been inside of me. In the mid ‘90s I started writing with the desire to be published. After years of trial and error, my first novel hit the shelves in 2000. Since then, I’ve published nearly 100 books (about 2/3 of which are novels in a variety of genres). I’ve had a blast and will continue penning novels as long as there’s breath in me.
You’ve titled the book Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. Can you share a little more about that?
I wrestled with the title for a couple of days, wanting to get it right. In the end, I came to this decision: Writers want TWO things. First, they want to know how to WRITE their novel. The first half of the book is completely dedicated to this process and includes every single thing a novelist (established or beginning) will need to write the best possible story. The second half of the book is dedicated to SELLING the novel and includes helpful information on pitching, marketing, working with an editor/agent, and even offers a comprehensive look at self-publishing to e-Book form. To check out the books full Table of Contents, go here.
Is the book’s section on plotting based on your “Plot Shots” teaching, which you’ve offered at conferences?
Yes! I’m so tickled to finally be able to offer this teaching in a book format. I’ve become known as “that Plot Shots lady.” That’s okay. I can live with that. I’m a firm believer in laying out a great plotline. Why? Because every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down. The "Plot Shots" method gives writers the tools they need to plot their novel in twelve easy snapshots. It’s a fun and easy approach to plotting that won’t confuse or complicate the story.
You have a unique approach to teaching characterization. Can you tell us more about that chapter?
Years ago I developed a teaching that I call “Pandora’s Box.” It’s a layered approach to characterization, which uses the illustration of multiple boxes, one inside the other. In this lesson, I lay out the need for great characterization, then present the Pandora’s Box method. After presenting the method, I take the student through the process four times, using four fictional characters as a foundation. (Each character has a different personality, so the student learns how to apply the technique to the various personalities.)
What are some of the top fiction mistakes?
Sure! After editing hundreds of manuscripts, I can point out some of the “top” fiction mistakes: Lack of a good hook. P.O.V. issues. Passive writing. Weak characterization. Poor plotting (no “belly of the whale” scene). Overuse of adverbs. On and on the list goes. Many writers simply don’t realize they’re making these mistakes until someone points them out. They wonder why the book keeps getting rejected. This lesson offers writers a thorough list, detailing the top twenty mistakes novelists make.
The second half of the book is devoted to pitching and promoting the book, as well as working with editors/agents, etc. Why include all of this information?
I included this information because the average novelist needs a wake-up call. We writers are solitary souls. We sit in front of our computers and lose ourselves in our stories. Then comes the time to pitch that story to an editor. We freeze. Courage eludes us. We need to proper tools to get the book through the publisher’s door and the second half of Writing and Selling the Great American Novel offers that. . .and more!
Where can people find Writing and Selling the Great American Novel?
They will find it on amazon for the next ninety days. From September 13th – 16th (the dates of the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference) the book will sell for $3.99. On the morning of the 17th the price will jump to its “forever” price of $8.99, a real bargain for such a comprehensive text.
Where can people find you on the web?
My website: www.janiceathompson.com
My facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jhannathompson
Thanks so much for joining us, Janice. Would you leave us with more information about your writing courses?
They can learn more at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. On that site, they will also find my “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” course, which many students have already taken. Folks can learn more about that one by clicking on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-5IZSNaZFU. I offered a free webinar on the subject some time ago, and it can be found here: http://www.freelancewritingcourses.com/?s=webinar. We’ll be adding to the course list periodically, so stay tuned for more announcements!